- ASECS at 50:Interview with George E. Haggerty
George E. Haggerty, Distinguished Professor Emeritus, University of California, Riverside, specializes in Eighteenth-Century English Literature and Queer Studies. His many books include Gothic Fiction/Gothic Form (Penn State, 1989); Unnatural Affections: Women and Fiction in the Later 18th Century (Indiana, 1998); Men in Love: Masculinity and Sexuality in the Eighteenth Century (Columbia, 1999); Queer Gothic (Illinois, 2006); Horace Walpole's Letters: Masculinity and Friendship in the Eighteenth Century (Bucknell, 2011), and, most recently, Queer Friendship: Male Intimacy in the English Literary Tradition (Cambridge, 2018). In addition, he co-edited Professions of Desire: Lesbian and Gay Studies in Literature for the Modern Language Association (1995), and The Blackwell Companion to LGBT/Q Studies (Blackwell, 2007). He was general editor of Taylor and Francis's Encyclopedia of Gay Histories and Cultures (2000); and he has also edited a collection of essays by his long-time partner, the musicologist, Philip Brett: Music and Sexuality in Britten: Selected Essays of Philip Brett (California, 2006).
He has also published a wide range of essays in such journals as Eighteenth-Century Studies, Eighteenth-Century Fiction, The Eighteenth Century: Theory and Interpretation, Genders, Novel, and SEL and in various collections and anthologies. At present he is working on an epistolary biography of Horace Walpole. Professor Haggerty's work has had an immeasurable impact upon the field of eighteenth-century studies, queer studies, the gothic, and genre studies, more broadly. His ground-breaking research, often showcased at ASECS over the last few decades, has opened up new and vital possibilities for our collective understanding of literary histories of sexualities, genders, intimacies, and homosocial friendships. His [End Page 163] research has established both lesbian and gay studies, as well as queer, approaches to the long eighteenth century as a valuable sub-field of enquiry with far-reaching ramifications. Professor Haggerty's important work on queerness and the gothic mode has set the theoretical parameters for work on gender, sexuality and the gothic that has emerged over the past two decades; scholars are still engaging with his work on the gothic with decisive consequences for research both within the field of anglophone eighteenth-century studies and beyond. Above all, Professor Haggerty is well-known for his profound collegiality and incredible intellectual generosity. His corpus of work continues to inspire scholars, both emerging and established. His past, and continuing, contribution to both the scholarly field and to the organization of ASECS itself provides the basis for the interview that follows.
Thank you very much for agreeing to speak to me about your career to date and about your involvement with the American Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies. Your research has been incredibly important for my own work on eighteenth-century effeminacy and political cultures; this is really an honor for me. I am curious to know a bit about the history of queer or lesbian and gay scholarships at ASECS. Has ASECS, in your opinion, changed in relation to LGBTQ+ scholarship?
When we first started a Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer Caucus at ASECS, we were a small group of marginalized scholars who found one another at ASECS and who immediately saw the virtue of working together. Once we established ourselves as a caucus, that meant we had sessions at every conference. There may have been naysayers, but for the most part we felt welcomed into the Society, and our work received support and great interest from the Society at large. Because our group included such wonderful scholars as Susan Lanser, Kristina Straub, Hans Turley, Chris Mounsey, and Caroline Gonda, we were already making a decent scholarly impression.
I have seen Queer Studies change at ASECS as well. I will talk about the below, but Disability Studies in the Eighteenth Century suggests both a new direction for Queer Studies, and it shows younger scholars taking those issues that are central to themselves and making them visible in ASCES. This has been a great success and a good model for others wishing to make their presence felt at ASECS.
Thank you. It is good to hear that early LGBTQ+ scholarship...